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Issue #1748      September 14, 2016

Jailer to the brutal status quo

G4S, a UK-based security multinational, admitted to having personnel deployed at “remote sites” where Native Americans are defending their lands from the planned US$3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline that they say would pollute the drinking water of millions.

The actions have brought together over 200 tribes in solidarity and faced a heavy offensive by private security companies and state officers deployed under a state of emergency.

The actions have brought together over 200 tribes in solidarity and faced a heavy offensive by private security companies and state officers deployed under a state of emergency.

The security company has been under fire for providing services to Israeli prisons and settlements, expanding across the Middle East including Afghanistan and Iraq and operating juvenile detention centres and handling deportations from the US.

In 2008 an Aboriginal prisoner, Mr Ward, died while being transported by G4S in Western Australia. In his findings, the West Australian Coroner found Mr Ward was effectively cooked to death in the back of a prison van. The Aboriginal elder was being driven in the back of the van through the searing temperatures of The Goldfields. The air-conditioning unit was not working and the temperature inside reached 50 degrees Celsius.

Before he died, the 46-year-old from Warburton suffered third-degree burns where his body touched the hot metal floor.

Coroner Alistair Hope said Mr Ward died as a result of heat stroke which was caused by grossly excessive heat in the pod in the transit van taking him from Laverton to Kalgoorlie. He accused the people driving the prison van of collusion and giving false evidence.

He also said the fact the prison van did not have a spare tyre was an indication of the transport company’s “reckless” approach to prisoner safety.

He said it was a disgrace that a prisoner in the 21st Century, particularly someone who was not convicted, was transported such a distance in such a compartment.

The Coroner expressed his disgust at the state of the compartment, saying it had all-metal surfaces, very little light, and no restraints to protect the person inside if the vehicle had come to grief in some way.

There was a lack of air flow and there was no proper method of communication between the pod and the drivers.

He said there was a panic button in the back but it was not prominent and only set off a light in the driver’s compartment which could not be seen in daytime.

The fan did not work when it was tested, the air-conditioning was not working, and in any case the air-conditioning was not appropriate to be driving people such long distances in remote areas.

In connection with the Dakota pipeline, in an email to teleSUR, G4S communications director Monica Lewman-Garcia wrote, “G4S Secure Solutions is providing fewer than 10 security officers, assigned to remote sites, providing limited short-term unarmed patrol services.”

G4S recently published a new job opening for an armed custom protection security officer in Mandan, North Dakota – next to the campsites – which was reposted on Facebook by Lakota Sioux Tribe member Olowaan Plain.

Lewman-Garcia said that “there are other names” of security companies but failed to name any others. She would not answer other questions and was not available to speak by phone.

Organisers told teleSUR that 10-Code LLC, a local veteran-run company, is also providing security, but they were not able to be reached.

A direct action to stop construction ended in security deploying dogs, who bit six people, including a pregnant woman and a child. The private security forces also maced 30 people, activists said. G4S officers “were not present and not involved at the location where the incident occurred,” wrote Lewman-Garcia.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which set up the Sacred Stone Camp in April, was denied a request for a temporary restraining order against the companies behind the pipeline. It filed the request after construction workers bulldozed “burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artefacts,” said tribal chairman David Archambault II in a press statement.

Over 200 tribes and First Nations and over 100 organisations and businesses, including an Ohio mosque, have signed statements of solidarity with the protests, which are said to be the largest Native American mobilisation in almost 150 years.

The state has mobilised armed patrols and requested the help of federal officials following an emergency declaration and a state of emergency, justified by claims of “hundreds of criminal acts” and “outside agitators,” according to North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple – a claim that protesters deny.

The state homeland security director also pulled out state-owned water and medical services to punish “unlawful” protesters and ensure “equipment is secure.”

The FBI has also been sent to investigate “laser strikes” against a surveillance aircraft circling the camp. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said the planes were there to ensure public safety, but people at the site said they were used to disrupt cell phone signals. Occupiers also complained about limited freedom of movement, with armed military checkpoints restricting entrance to the camps.

Meanwhile, the Red Warrior Camp has been continuing its direct actions at construction sites, which led the Army Corps of Engineers to support a temporary halt to some construction work on the basis of “ensuring peace.”

Two week-long solidarity protests have started across the country, targeting other companies benefiting from the pipeline, like Citibank and TD Securities.


Next article – Culture & Life – Climate change, profit and nature

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